Rest in peace. Often said at the wrong time in life, it seems to me. Ever notice how our drive, our sports, our busy lives, our multitasking makes our rest turbulent? Sleep is fitful. Naps are rare. Even yoga has become a multitasking athletic triathlon.
Watch the timeouts in tennis, in football, in your workday. Timeouts in sports and life are filled with frenetic resetting of the tools available to re-enter the fray. Watch people on an airplane. Their seats are filled with digital tools and toys, headphones and simultaneous reading materials and food. Watch people eat alone at a fast food restaurant. Luckily the digestive tract complains later.
Watch people read a book in bed: the TV is often on, the music playing, the cellphone at the bedside. Watch people on vacation. At the poolside, rarely does anyone just close their eyes. The beaches are filled with coolers, toys, radios and sports toys. Even the museumgoers have talking headphones, cameras and guides.
Where in this life do people rest in peace? And why do you have to die to do it? Just imagine how much better we would all perform if, when we rested, we really rested? The football player would return with calm but fierce determination, the tennis player with focus, the worker with less stress, the mom with more patience, never mind the surgeon with calmer hands. And creative thinking might occur.
How can we teach resting? The Buddhists use meditation and mindfulness to calm the myriad of external inputs barraging our minds and a few people I know can do this well. The Quakers used a moment of silence, unfortunately just a moment. Few religions focus on teaching mental timeouts and no schools that I know of. Rest in peace may need to become a required preschool class, repeated annually to resist the new temptations that innovation forces upon us. But what about the rest of the population? Wouldn't a skillful rest time that turned down the heat of the stressful day permit us all to approach life more successfully?
Rest time need not be thoughtless. Creativity often occurs during that moment of pausing, thinking and seeing the future. That moment of insight probably happens often during the day, but is blurred by the frenetic activities of the busy brain. Thinking might need to be retaught to a population that has become so overconsumed with doing. Personally, I find a lot of time in every second, sense that everything can be improved and love thinking about how to do it. Yet calming the brain intentionally whenever I wish remains a challenge.
Let's find the nonreligious nonjudgmental ubiquitous tool that permits us all to pause, rest, think and restart during every day and the world will thank us for it.
Dr. Kevin R. Stone is an orthopedic surgeon at The Stone Clinic and chairman of the Stone Research Foundation in San Francisco. He pioneers advanced orthopedic surgical and rehabilitation techniques to repair, regenerate and replace damaged cartilage and ligaments. For more info, visit www.stoneclinic.com.